WATCH: Did you know that the government takes a portion of BCFerries’ profits every year? As Calvin To reports, critics say it’s unfair to people who depend on ferries.
New documents from the Southern Gulf Islands Advisory Committee show a growing concern over BCFerries fares.
Since 2003, many fares rose more than 100 per cent, while the consumer price index went up only 18 per cent.
“Nobody who ever rides the ferries believes that the fares are being kept low,” says NDP transportation spokesperson Claire Travena.
According to a fact sheet from the Southern Gulf Islands Advisory Committee, fare hikes have had “a real and increasingly devastating impact” on coastal communities.
At the same time, the province has been taking an approximately $6 million dividend from BCFerries every year.
“You can either subtract it from the subsidy that the B.C. government gives, or you can cut the fares by one per cent and give everyone a little bit of relief. Either way, I think taxpayers would be happy,” says Jordan Bateman, B.C. spokesperson for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
The province says the dividend is offset by an almost $200 million yearly investment in BCFerries.
Fare hikes have also been capped at 1.9 per cent per year until 2020.
“There were some tough decisions that had to be made to get here and sacrifices that were made by folks in coastal communities, but the ferry system here in British Columbia is sustainable,” says transportation minister Todd Stone.
Yet there is ongoing concern about the use of the dividend. The B.C. Chamber of Commerce wants to see it used for investments in infrastructure in areas dependent on ferries.
“As long as that money is getting put back into the system, our members would obviously support that investment,” says Dan Baxter, Director of Policy Development, Government and Stakeholder Relations at the B.C. Chamber of Commerce.